All of us want a ‘Good Death’, but how many of us get the perfect one?

A “good death” would sound like a proper oxymoron, much like “good taliban” or “good terrorist”, if only it didn’t offer a commentary on its inherent fatalism.

But it is a phrase that trips off many a tongue, offering a glimpse of the greed of man even when the bell tolls, desiring not just an end but an end on his terms.

Partly in hope—so that you don’t have suffer in pain before the end comes. Partly in prayer—so that you aren’t fleeced of your baubles by usurious doctors, hospitals and insurance firms.

Spare a moment, therefore, to look at this extraordinary video, shot on a mobile phone, of the final moments on stage of the noted ottam thullal artiste, Kalamandalam Geethanandan, while performing at the Avitthathur temple in Thrissur district.

Is this the “perfect death”?

At the feet of your guru, in a temple, in the middle of what you love doing most, in front of your own?

Much is made of armed forces personnel dying in harness, with their boots on, in the line of duty. Words like heroism, martyrdom, shaheed are used.

How different is Geethanandhan’s death with his greasepaint on, in his 50th year of performance?